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Last Updated on November 26, 2020

A Productivity Junkie’s Guide to Overcoming Lack of Time

A Productivity Junkie’s Guide to Overcoming Lack of Time

There are days when it seems like there weren’t 24 hours in the day. It’s like the hours are disappearing or the clocks are running faster. Sorry to break it to you, but none of this is happening. The lack of time that you’re experiencing is just an illusion.

Your concern about not having enough time in the 24 hours in a day is not invalid. You’re not alone. However, the responsibility for fixing this issue is on your shoulders.

What you need to do is learn to manage what you’ve been given. Of course, no one can add an extra hour to the day. But what you can do is use every minute to your benefit.

If you struggle in dealing with a lack of time, you’ve come to the right place!

Why Do You Feel Like Having a Lack of Time?

Lack of time is experienced when certain bad habits take over your routine. These habits are unintentional, and you may not even realize that they are connected to your lack of productivity.

Here’s a quick rundown of some of these habits that are the most common among people who tend to complain of a lack of time. Once you’re aware of these causes, you can work to eliminate the problem from its roots.

1. Lack of Sleep or Oversleeping

You know how when your smart devices aren’t working, so you restart them and they start to work fine? Well, the human equivalent of that is sleeping.

Sleeping allows your body and mind to refresh. It gives you back all the drained energy and provides a fresh start for the new day. However, it needs to be done right. What this means is that you should sleep just the right amount. Six to eight hours of sleep is the ideal range for adults.

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Lack of sleep leads to a lack of productivity. Similarly, oversleeping will keep you lazy throughout the day. Adopt healthy sleeping habits.

More importantly, you should sleep comfortably. Have a nice, relaxing bed where you can sleep in a comfortable posture. Try to keep the temperature of the room optimal so that you’re not disturbed through the night. If you find sunlight disturbing, use an eye mask while sleeping. If you have noisy neighbors, use earplugs. Do all that you can to give yourself the best night’s sleep every night.

2. Multitasking

This might be a surprise for a lot of you. Multitasking is not a way to be efficient or productive. In fact, it is the polar opposite. Your brain can focus on only one thing at a time.[1] If you force it to focus on more, it fails to perform well in either task.

It is proven that multitasking slows down your brain performance. Your brain is unable to focus on either of the tasks that you’re multitasking. So, you end up spending more time completing them, and the results aren’t your best performance either.

Tackling two different tasks, even if they’re closely related, messes up with your mind. The ideas and requirements for both the tasks get mixed up. You risk your performance, quality of work, and end up wasting your precious time too. All in all, multitasking is not worth the risk at all.

3. Working Non-Stop

What’s the best way to do more in less time? Most would say working non-stop in one go shall do the trick. Well, the truth is, if you go on and work continuously, you’re only wasting your time. Your productivity and motivation are affected due to the constant strain on your mind.

This way, you’re not utilizing time to its maximum because your brain slows down and you need more time to finish tasks that would otherwise require lesser time.

A better approach is to work with breaks. You shouldn’t feel guilty about these breaks in your workday. Instead, look at these time slots as a source of refreshing your brain. A 5-minute break every couple of hours is just enough to recharge your energy levels and bring that the motivation you need to quickly finish off your work.

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4. Distractions

Working in an environment full of distractions is one of the biggest reasons that gives you a sense of a lack of time. You end up staring out your window, looking for your favorite pen, or doing something completely pointless instead of spending time finishing what you’re supposed to.

The best way to minimize your lack of time is to set up a productive workspace. If you’re working from home, designate a specific space for your work where you don’t sleep or relax. This space should only be for work.

If you’re in an office, have all your essentials within reach. A water bottle, a snack, stationery, notes, chargers, devices that you need, and everything else that you could possibly need during work should be near your workspace. This will keep you from wasting time or breaking your workflow.

How to Get the Most Out of Your Day

On top of getting rid of the aforementioned causes, you can also add some more healthy practices to your routine to get the most out of the day. These tips will eradicate the lack of time that you’re facing otherwise.

1. Have an Organized Plan

Starting the day with a plan is one great tip to avoid a lack of time. A well-planned to-do list is one of the secrets of the most successful people in the world.

If you can put all your tasks of the day and week in a calculated plan, you will end up utilizing your time way more effectively. You can use some very simple yet fool-proof strategies to devise a to-do list that will work wonders for you.

A plan or to-do list works like your assistant. It reminds you exactly what needs to be done, when your work is due, how long each task should take, and where you can adjust urgent or unexpected work.

2. Prioritize

Prioritization is something you should adopt even if you don’t experience the illusion of a lack of time. If you do have a lack of time, you shouldn’t skip it at all! This is the simple technique of what’s most important on top.

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For example, start your day with the task that you know needs to be to be finished by the end of the day. The ones that will either take less time or aren’t due right away can be pushed to later days.

Prioritizing also needs to be included in other parts of your life. So, prioritize your work and personal life to maintain a balance. This makes your overall life convenient and easier to manage.

Learn more about prioritization: How to Prioritize Right in 10 Minutes and Work 10X Faster

3. Avoid Procrastination

You may think you’re not a procrastinator. But if you think there’s a lack of time, then procrastination is a contributing habit.

Maybe not consciously, but you push your tasks to the last minute. You fail to stay attentive, which is why you have to spend more time on minor jobs too. Focus is hard to gain but easy to lose.

All these are signs of procrastination. If you want to eradicate the lack of time from your life, you have to get rid of procrastination as well. Luckily, you can find a lot of easy tips and strategies online to do so.

4. Improve Time Management

It all comes down to time management. This skill is the magic wand that helps you use every hour of the day. It may sound pretty simple. You do use all the hours in the day already. However, if you sit down and calculate how much time you’ve actually used in the day, you’ll realize that you waste more than half of your time.

Time-management is what keeps you from wasting this uncalculated time. It is the skill that gives you the power to be productive through every minute. Moreover, if you can learn to manage your time, you’ll automatically avoid procrastination, too.[2]

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With this skill alone, you’ll notice a huge difference in terms of the lack of time that you were experiencing beforehand.

Bottom Line

In the end, one thing is for sure: there is no such thing as a lack of time. You’re the one who either puts the time to use or lets it go to waste.

If you can keep yourself from wasting the defined hours of the day in the wrong areas and utilize them efficiently, you’ll have plenty of time to manage all that you need to.

The tips that you’ve learned today are priceless. In a world like this, time is money. With the knowledge that you’ve gained, you’re on your way to endless wealth and productivity!

So, start using these tips to improve your life by utilizing every second of the day. Get on with this new lifestyle to conquer anything and everything in this world!

More Productivity Tips

Featured photo credit: Andy Beales via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

More on Building Habits

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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